Mar 23, 2010

No Reservations: Harbin

I've been to Harbin in the winter before (old posts here and here), so I was very interested to see Anthony Bourdain's take on the city during the latest episode of No Reservations.

I like this narrative from the beginning of the episode, as Bourdain is gobbling down some ice cream:
I have to say, the cold is not the only factor here. There's a sort of constant haze of coal smoke. Gives it sort of a stuck-in-the-garage feel to breathing here. It's the carbon monoxide that makes it delicious.

When I visited Harbin, we found it hard to find any decent food. My Chinese sources tell me that up until a couple decades ago, northeast China basically had no fruits and vegetables. People there lived mainly on meat and grains, so it's natural that their culinary advancement has been stunted.

Since good food was hard to get, I was very curious what culinary delights the No Reservations team would find in Harbin. After watching the episode, I can say that Anthony Bourdain seems to have had pretty much the same experience as I did in Harbin.

Bourdains' local tour guides were just average. Here's a quick sampling of where they took him:
  • Boiled dumplings and beer at the Ol' Dirty Dumpling House. Look at Bourdain's thrilled look:

    Bourdain's guide, the Chinese guy with a comical Irish accent, was kind of amusing.
  • This young couple, who took Bourdain to a kebab joint, was as exciting as a pair of socks:

Why they would take Bourdain to a dumpy kebab place is beyond me. Greasy meat on a stick served over a plate covered with a plastic bag taste good only after a night of excessive drinking. When you're sober, they're just no good.

To top things off, the exciting couple gave Bourdain a skewer of silk worm larvae. This is gross, nasty stuff. Chinese people go out of their way to eat silk worm larvae, so why would you give it to Bourdain? Anthony Bourdain is big into organ meat — sweet breads, brains, stomachs. Bear Grylls is the guy that's always eating disgusting bugs and worms.

Notice that the guides always gave Bourdain that horrible Snow Beer to drink. (consistent 'D' rating on Beeradvocate).

I think the best part of this episode of No Reservations was when they go ice fishing at the end. Check out the episode's web site. The whole episode is on YouTube.


Blogger Jimmy said...

I loved the part where they dance on the ice. That Chinese guy is a happy man. Also enjoyed the tour guide's heavy irish accent.

9:09 AM  

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